Sunday, June 26, 2011

Whoop whoop! SnoBowl's officially OPEN for the summer!

It's official - opening day at the (new) SnoBowl Ski & Bike Park was this Saturday, and it'll be open for lift-served mountain biking all summer! Operating hours this first year will be Saturdays, 12N - 4PM.

We tried to keep the opening small so that we could shake things out before things got too busy, and it worked out really well. We had everything from kids with their dad all the way up to some very experienced downhillers out there, and everybody found some good challenges for their skill levels. The feedback from the riders was great - fun trails, and they're ready to spread the word about what we have going up there. It was all VERY good to hear!

The riding this weekend was a lot of fun. It was a major flower show... at one point I felt like I was riding through a flower shop... the lupines smelled that good.

Lots of arrowleaf balsamroot up there, too. I love the juxtaposition of their bright yellows with the lupines.

Here's one of the places that needs some work. This switchback is on the beginner trail, and is one of two switchbacks on that route that need better than beginner bike handling skills to manage. We've got it signed to warn people to slow down - giving beginners a chance to get off and walk - but we need to rebuild this to make it safer for new riders. This won't be a small project as it's in steep terrain. We're working out how to get it done, though, and hope to have it completed before the end of summer.

Dave Todero, our trail designer, is using the Kennedy Ranch backhoe to build terrain park features at the bottom. Folks riding the intermediate trail can finish their run through the park, or can opt to ride straight back down to the lift. One of the really nice parts of this is that the park features are positioned to transition nicely into ski season - won't our snowboarders be happy to see all of these new features come winter time!

Here's the map. SnoBowl sits on a section of land (640 acres) which gives us plenty of room to work with as we develop riding. The downhill trails, obviously, will by and large be routed down the east side, where the skiing happens. Most of the cross-country trails will be built on the back side, although we'll obviously put a trailhead at the base area. The trail grade on the beginner trail averages 9%, so when the lift isn't running it's rideable as an uphill. It's a grunt, but it's rideable. Once we get the XC trails done, that trail will be full time one-way downhill. The intermediate trail averages 16% and is a lot steeper than that in places.

There's plenty more work to be done, of course. Those who are interested in helping get stuff built are invited to show up Saturdays at 9AM for trail work. Those who help build trail on Saturday morning will ride the lift for free that afternoon! Otherwise, lift tickets are a very affordable $15. A bargain at any price!

In case you missed it, the Elko Daily Free Press did a front-page story on the SnoBowl this weekend. Thanks again to them and to the rest of our local media for helping us get the word out. What a great community!

SnoBowl Opens Lift-Served Mountain Biking

Last, and certainly not least - a very, very big shout-out goes to Elko Blacksmith Shop. We'd asked for help all over town getting the bike hooks built that allow us to attach mountain bikes to the chair lift. Folks made some commitments... and then fell through. Somebody suggested at the last minute that we talk to Elko Blacksmith Shop and, even though they were completely booked up, they found a way to get us ten hooks in time for opening day. Seriously - we COULD NOT have opened without their help. We have another 23 hooks coming so that we can have one every three chairs, which is where we need to be with uphill capacity. If you have ANY opportunity to throw some business their way, please do. They will certainly be the first people we call from here on out!

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